For the Greater Glory of God
Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at Xavier College, Kew,
for the pupils of Burke Hall & Kostka Hall
on Monday, 3rd December, 2001, At 11.00am
My dear young Friends,
I rejoice at being with you as your Archbishop and as an old Xaverian returning to the place where so much of my education took place. I first came here as a student forty-seven years ago and left here forty-two years ago.
Saint Francis Xavier is recognised as a most remarkable person, fired by enthusiasm and love for Jesus Christ. His learning at the university and in the theology school of Paris brought him to such a compelling love of Jesus that he could not keep it to himself; he had to share it with others. His heroic labours in India, Goa, Japan and the islands approaching China gained him nomination as the patron of all missionary work.
We celebrate his feast with love and thanksgiving. As we show gratitude for the education we receive here at Xavier College, let us ask that we will be guided by his love, challenged by it and use the very best of our abilities for the greater glory of God.
Let us call to mind our sins.
My dear young Friends,
"For the greater glory of God."
Many of you have taken a further step this year through your preparation for life's work. You have discovered new things, developed new talents. The end of each year is a time to look back with thankfulness for the things we have been able to do, for the talents we have developed, for the friendships that we know and for the weaknesses which remain a challenge to us.
Just less than four hundred and ninety-seven years ago Francis Xavier was born a Spaniard, went to study in Paris as a young man of nineteen, where he met Ignatius Loyola and Peter Faber. At the age of twenty-seven, following Faber, Francis Xavier was to commit himself to the new Society of Jesus, founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola. After further studies he was ordained priest with Saint Ignatius at Venice on 24th June, 1537, and after Pope Paul III approved the Jesuits on 3rd September, 1539, he became the most remarkable missionary. Portugal, India, Malaya, the Pearl Fishery Coast near Ceylon, Japan, Malacca on the Malay Peninsula, Goa, back to India; and all the time there was a burning desire to bring the love and knowledge of Jesus to China. As a young man of forty-six he died on this day in 1552 (four hundred and forty-nine years ago).
The Pope proclaimed him a saint in 1622 at the same time as Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Philip Neri and Saint Isadore. Indeed part of a very noble family.
You are beginning and continuing your life at Xavier College. I believe that Saint Francis Xavier has a number of remarkable gifts for each of us. These can be our inspiration and can help us in our service of God and people. In mentioning these gifts I pay tribute especially to your teachers who are inspired by the life of Francis Xavier and use their gifts in the best way possible.
Firstly, Ignatius Loyola captured Saint Francis Xavier with the idea that everything was done for the greater glory of God. To me this means that each one of us is called to recognise our gifts. You are given marvellous opportunities to develop those gifts, to thank God for them, to discover what they are and to use them, not only in a way which is as good and as generous as others, but which is the very best that you can do.
Every one of us has different gifts and we must not be looking sideways at what others can and cannot do. Rather each of us has unique and precious abilities. Indeed, God loves us as special people.
Secondly, the greater glory means doing the very best we can and being inspired by love. When we love someone we follow them, we do not think of the time and effort; we keep that vision in front of us.
Francis Xavier was inspired by the love of God and wanted to share with other people that peace which comes from knowing that we are loved and knowing that we are guided by God's truth.
You have been given the best possible type of Catholic education. This brings wonderful opportunities in the things you discover to do and which will prepare you well for life, but it brings a great responsibility to God to show that love in all that we do. Pope John Paul II recently said that each of us who has received baptism needs to nourish our friendship with Jesus Christ through prayer. Mass on Saturday night or Sunday is the great prayer, because here we listen to God speaking to us, we stop and think for once in the week and we know our God loves us. Let us try hard, especially over the holidays, to take up the challenge.
When Saint Francis Xavier worked for the greater glory of God he was not distracted by the little things. In our attitudes to people we have to look beyond the little things that make each of us different and to see that being a loving person, giving of our talents, respecting other people, being open to God above all as the mirror of how we see other people, is an ongoing, lifelong challenge. In my days at school young men like you took that love to a great extent. Many of them now are Jesuit priests and are serving the Church generously.
I never for a minute thought what I might be asked to do in the Church and yet I have tried generously to say yes to what God has wanted of me through my superiors. I do urge you to think big thoughts, to open your heart to the possibility that God might be calling you to be a priest. Whether it is as a priest, a doctor, a lawyer, a worker, a computer scientist, a technician, a person caring for others, or whatever it may be, make sure that you do discover what are your abilities, you do use them with love and you use them to enrich and draw other people to a love which will not pass away.
That was the secret which led Francis Xavier to go to many countries, to spend many exhausting hours labouring and teaching, because it was the love of Jesus that fired him, because the glory and love of God were not enough, he wanted to give the greater glory, the very best that he could.
You and I have in our hands the ability to make our part of the world a better place, to enrich it, to challenge it. As young, Catholic men it is your function, just as much as it is mine, to bring our belief in God, our values, the truth of the Gospels and our respect for human beings into the society in which we live. May God bless us and strengthen us as we seek to do that, remembering that Francis Xavier is the patron of all those who discover abilities, use them with love and courage. May that love and courage guide us now and always.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.